We recently noted that enforcement of the REAL ID Act was poised to begin shortly, and that airport travelers from several states were going to need passports or other forms of identification because the state driver’s licenses do not meet the regulatory requirements.

States on the “naughty” list were pushing for implementation delays, and California had already received approval for an October compliance start date.

The Department of Homeland Security has now delayed implementation of travel identification requirements until 2018 for everyone:

Bottom line up front: Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to board a commercial domestic flight. Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents.

What will be happening in the meantime? The Transportation Security Agency will be using the next 2 years to warn the public of the coming implementation requirements via social media, signage, handouts, and other methods.

Jim Harper of the CATO Institute has been following the REAL ID Act requirements and its deadlines, and indicates this delay was predictable.

The date is significant for more than just proving the Department of Homeland Security’s bluff. January 22, 2018 is more than a year into the next into the next presidential administration. Secretary Johnson will be gone. The new president, whoever he or she is, will have a Homeland Security Secretary whose underlings will probably have driven the issue too hard for DHS and Congress to tolerate. And the 2018 REAL ID deadline will get pushed back again, by that group of federal bureaucrats.

It’s why I’ve said time and time again that REAL ID deadlines aren’t real.

Secretary Johnson’s press release breaks some new and interesting ground. Starting on October 1, 2020, it says, “every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.”

Currently, the acceptable forms of identification are as follows:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential

It is important to note that other aspects of compliance enforcement are still going full speed ahead!

But five states and one territory – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington and American Samoa – don’t comply with the new requirement and haven’t been granted extensions.

Starting Sunday, residents of those states won’t be able to use driver’s licenses to identify themselves at federal facilities that require identification such as military bases.

Ultimately, Harper is concerned that under a new administration, there will be further delays in travel enforcement deadlines and creation of some type of national ID card could be implemented as a compliance measure. I suspect that the course the DHS pursues will be strongly influenced by who is sitting in the Oval Office in 2018.

All the more reason to get involved in the outcome of the 2016 election, then!